Highlights from the Legislature on Monday
– The House has approved and sent to the governor a measure that would allow the commissioner of Agriculture to inspect large tanks of anhydrous ammonia used by farmers for fertilizer. Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, said the bill is too broad, allowing the state to inspect tanks anytime during business hours. “What are regular business workers for a farmer?” McKinley asked his colleagues.- The House tentatively approved a plan to add $3 million to the Older Colorado Cash Fund. The measure (House Bill 1108) would increase the state contribution to the Older Colorado Cash Fund to $8 million. The money will go toward expanding essential funding for a menu of basic senior services, including meals-on-wheels, shopping shuttles, and basic in-home care. It faces a third reading before it goes to the Senate.- The House tentatively approved a bill that would create sales and use tax exemptions to encourage the harvesting of wood from salvaged trees killed by the mountain pine beetles. Supporters said such trees, which are dying from the infestation sweeping the state, are only commercially viable for three years.- The House gave initial approval to a bill that would require publishers to disclose the price of college textbooks, the history of substantive revisions to the textbooks, and the estimated time the publisher intends to keep the textbooks on the market. The College Textbook Affordability Act (Senate Bill 73) would also require publishers of a bundled textbook package, such as CDs, remote controls and other devices to offer the option of purchasing the textbook and each of the individual products separately. It faces a third reading before it goes to the governor.- The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee voted 6-5 to kill a proposal (House Bill 1327) that would have allowed Colorado residents to buy health insurance from companies that aren’t licensed to sell policies in Colorado but are licensed to do business in other states. Rep. Cory Gardner said the competition could drive down the cost of health insurance but opponents said people could have a difficult time finding out what those policies covered and with lodging complaints against the out-of-state companies. Others worried it would drive up the cost of insurance in Colorado by shrinking the risk pool.- The Senate gave initial approval to making the western painted turtle the official state reptile. The measure (House Bill 1017) must pass another vote before it can be sent to the governor.- The Senate gave initial approval to requiring all pet shelters and rescue groups to spay or neuter dogs and cats before turning them over to new owners (House Bill 1185).- In a party line vote, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution urging Congress to ratify a United Nations convention opposing discrimination against women, which was signed by President Carter in 1978. All Republicans opposed the measure. Sen. Shawn Mitchell called it a “sham document” that advocates for things like equal pay for work of equal value, instead of simply equal work, and fighting against social and cultural stereotypes, which he said could include stay-at-home moms. Sen. Jennifer Veiga said Congress could ratify it with conditions.
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